RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Michael Carter-WilliamsPosted by BHayes on June 20th, 2013
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.
Player Name: Michael Carter-Williams
Height/Weight: 6’6”/ 185 lbs.
NBA Position: Point Guard
Projected Draft Range: Lottery to Mid-First Round
Overview: He only spent one year earning real minutes under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, but Michael Carter-Williams (also known as MCW) showcased his unique skill set during the 2012-13 season. His final stat line does well to express his diverse impact on a Syracuse squad that concluded its campaign in Atlanta and the Final Four: 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 SPG. The former McDonald’s All-American led the Big East in both steals and assists, and in the process became the key cog on a team loaded with talent. There were bumps in the road – inconsistent shooting, a drop in production during Big East play, that Syracuse mid-season swoon – but Carter-Williams’ frequent dynamic performances still left NBA scouts salivating. Even during a freshman season where he witnessed only 269 total minutes of court time, MCW showed enough to pique the interest of scouts. The sophomore’s emergence was far more confirmation than pleasant surprise, and it now leaves him on the doorstep of the NBA. Much progress still needs to be made when it comes to skill development, but you have to believe whichever NBA team winds up selecting Carter-Williams will have big hopes for the player who may just have the highest ceiling in the entire draft.
Will Translate to the NBA: The reality is that Carter-Williams is a pretty raw prospect at this point. He will need further schooling and seasoning on both ends of the court to get up to speed in the NBA, but he does enter the league with some NBA-ready tools. First, and most obviously, his measurables are fantastic. He is extraordinarily long and athletic for the PG position, and it will be those traits that help to overcome some of his current skill deficiencies while he adjusts to the league. And while development is needed in a lot of areas, MCW already flashes many attributes of successful NBA point guards. His Syracuse teammates of a year ago can attest to the fact that his floor vision is very good (you are welcome James Southerland!) and despite his unusual size, ball-handling and passing are both plus attributes for Carter-Williams. Early minutes will depend on where he lands of course, but don’t expect Carter-Williams to be overwhelmed with the athleticism of the league, and he could even prove capable of providing a spark to a second unit from day one.
Needs Work: The quick, clean answer to this prompt is Carter-Williams’ jump shot. He did average three three-point attempts a game last season, but managed to make only 29% of those efforts. Clearly that percentage will have to improve at the next level if he is to be allowed such indiscretion from range. He is relatively young in terms of game action (only spent two years at Syracuse and barely played as a freshman), but he also is already the age of a college senior, so it remains to be seen how much growth potential remains when it comes to his skill development. Others areas of concern for MCW are more abstract. A point guard has to be a leader, and while Carter-Williams was just a sophomore last year, he needs to eventually grow into more of a leadership role at the next level. He will also be tasked with the challenge of guarding man-to-man exclusively, a challenging adjustment for any Syracuse draftee after spending years in the 2-3 zone. Carter-Williams thrived at creating turnovers and causing general chaos as a long, athletic guard at the top of the zone. Can he have a similar impact guarding man-to-man? The physical capability is there, but the basketball-IQ and desire to succeed will be tested en route to answering this question.
Best Case Scenario: There is a distinct boom-or-bust feel to MCW entering this draft, but make no mistake – that boom could be quite loud. Any development on the jump-shot front would be a huge boon to creating that best case scenario, but Carter-Williams has All-Star potential even without his shooting rounding into form. His length and athleticism make him capable of being a defensive nightmare in the NBA, and if both his leadership and ability to make plays in the halfcourt take steps forward, an offensive impact similar to that of Rajon Rondo isn’t impossible to foresee. Carter-Williams’ physical gifts are tantalizing; if the skill development and intangibles ever come close to matching that raw potential, one NBA team could have a perennial All-Star leading their team.
Best NBA Fit: If Trey Burke is picked somewhere in the top five, or Carter-Williams can beat him out as the top point guard off the board, then New Orleans at #6 could be a very natural resting spot for the Syracuse product. If the Pelicans opt for Burke or head in another direction altogether, it still might not be long until Carter-Williams hears his name called. Sacramento at #7 is in search of a true point guard for their chaotic roster, while the Detroit Pistons, owners of the #8 pick, could do worse than to draft MCW and slide Brandon Knight over to shooting guard, where he might be better suited anyways. If he slips by all three of these teams then the next realistic landing spot for Carter-Williams is all the way down at #13 to the Dallas Mavericks, but it would be a real upset if he falls all the way out of the lottery. The upside is just too attractive in a draft with this many question marks.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Ceiling is considerable, but so is his basement, has star potential but also appears to be a guy that could end up playing the majority of his career overseas. High level passing ability. Tremendous length and height for his position combined with a high basketball IQ. Carter-Williams is a gifted athlete. Possesses the skill to burst through a first line of defenders, with a deceptive first step. Can turn a broken play into points with an outstanding ability to find the open man.”